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Lighting your dining table

 The right lighting can make a room sing, but right now most of my rooms are off key.  It's time for a lighting change in my home.

 photo: M Ryall

I love my new fixture for the kitchen and I'm currently thinking about changing the one in my dining room.  When you're buying lighting to hang over a table you should consider several factors including: 
  •  Height of ceiling- taller ceilings demand larger fixtures; many new home builds in my area now have 9 foot ceilings.
  • Size and shape of table: Your fixture should complement not overpower your table.  You can also have lighting fixtures that are too small for a table.
  • Height of homeowners:  It is a fact that tall homeowners have a greater chance of continually bumping into lights hung too low over a table when they are setting or removing dishes.
  •  Performance:  If you want to have more than task lighting over a table you need to make sure your light will also light the rest of the room. To provide both functions you should have it on a dimmer. 
Height above table
The specifics of how high to hang your fixture can be confusing. While some designers hold to a standard height no matter what, this seems ill advised when you think about it. I tend to think in terms of a range while taking other factors into account including: personal preference, the height of the homeowners, fixture size, style of fixture, ceiling height, task to be illuminated etc. .
    The general recommendations for  hanging a fixture over a table is 28 - 32 inches above the table if you have an eight foot ceiling. I treated the drum pendant in my kitchen as if it were a chandelier and placed it at 32 inches from the table top so I wouldn't continually bump it when working. Another set of guidelines suggest measuring  from the floor  to the bottom of the shade and site  60 - 66 inches as reasonable.  Most tables are 30 inches high.  That would put the height from the floor  to my shade at 62 inches.
    If you have ceilings higher than eight feet , go up 3 inches for each additional foot above eight feet.

     Size of fixture
    Another factor that needs consideration is the size of your  table. For most applications the diameter of your light fixture should be at least 1/2 the width of your table or even a little larger.   My kitchen fixture is exactly one half the width of the table at 18 inches in diameter.  

     Function of fixture
    The illumination given off by drum shades  is soft and calming, but  bright enough to provide lighting for an entire room.  When a large drum pendant is hung over a table it not only anchors the vignette, but if placed on a dimmer the fixture can provide brighter light for any tasks done at the table and softer light while dining. While I don't have anything against chandeliers, I don't have any in my own home.I'm definitely into clean lines and a very sparse contemporary feel.

    Photo: M. Ryall

    My dining room fixture needs replacing because it's less than ideal for its present location.   I feel it  needs to be more substantial and circular to work against all those horizontal lines that are the bane of my existence.  It is also hung fairly high at 41 inches from the table.  This was a conscious decision on my part when I hung it because  I didn't want it obscuring the art work when viewed from the living room.  The table is also narrow and I was concerned with bumping my head on it when setting the table. When measured from the floor it rests at 71 inches.

    Note to self:  Get a bigger fisture and hang it at 32 inches from the table as I did in the kitchen.

    Sizing based on room dimensions
    There is another guideline for determining the size of your fixture- add the length and width of your room together (11 +14=25) and convert the sum to inches and that should be the diameter of your  fixture.  Of course that is not a hard and fast rule, but it will provide a light fixture that is a focal point for the room. If the result seems too large for the size of your table look for a fixture that is 2/3 the width of the table.

      Possible style options for pendant lighting...

    Love the shape, colour and texture of this lotus flower pendant. Vivaterra.com, $329.

    I first saw this  contemporary Maskros pendant lamp from IKEA  last year in the home of a Danish friend while I was visiting Kelowna. It is large ( 31.5 inches in diameter) and can't be hung just anywhere. Her stairwell was a  prefect spot  because it had space to visually "breathe".  Once this pendant is switched on, the light casts intricate patterns on the walls.  It’s absolutely fascinating  At first glance it  has a lovely organic feel reminiscent of the seed head of a dandelion.Unfortunately it is not available online only at the store.

    And here's another favourite ...

    I love the patterns in these Galbraith & Paul drums.  They are available through Room and Board online and the price won't break the bank. Nothing could be more perfect in my book than patterns and circles. My difficulty here is choosing just one!

    This is a modified pendant, three lights hanging from one base that looks good over a small circular table.
     Encircled Crystal 12" Wide Halogen 3-in-1 Pendant available at Lamps Plus (US) for $169.00

    Lyrical and whimsical

    Possini Euro Design 18-Light Curly Ribbon Pendant at $449.99 available at Lamps Plus above.

    Here are some other ideas in a mood board I created for this topic.

    There's no shortage of choices for over table lighting.  The most difficult part is narrowing it down to one. 
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